Tag Archives: zeal

What’s Missing In Our Evangelism (It’s Not What You Think)

It is incontestably true that, with the exception of Jesus, the apostle Paul made the deepest spiritual impact upon the world and spread the gospel further than anyone else in history. It is also fair to say that, as believers, we all have a desire to transform our world and reach lost souls the same way Paul did. But, as painful as it is to admit, it is observably true that we are not doing so for the most part. So, what are we missing in our evangelism? Why aren’t we impacting the world like Paul did? 

We have a plethora of evangelistic resources and tools at our disposal—much more than Paul had—so that’s not the problem. We mostly know how to share the gospel with sinners who will listen, so that’s not the issue. And, we certainly have ample opportunities and plenty of “open doors” to proclaim the gospel every week, so that’s not the hang-up either. What we don’t have oftentimes is the heart Paul had. 

What we need in order to reach the world like Paul is a burning and broken heart—a heart that burns hot for God’s glory, and one that is broken and shattered for the sinfulness of man. That’s the heart Paul possessed, and it drove him to evangelize a place as depraved as Athens, Greece. Paul was consumed by a conviction that compelled him to preach the gospel and point idolatrous sinners to the only God who is worthy of worship:

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.  So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him” (Acts 17:16-18)

As soon as Paul arrived in Athens, he wasn’t struck by the alluring ancient architecture; he was struck by the awful idolatry that filled the streets. “The city was full of idols,” Luke says. In Greek, this literally means the city streets were “smothered in idols.” And people who passed through Athens confirmed this, as they would often say that it was easier to find a god than a man. 

Athens was an idol-factory that never ceased operations. Temples to mythical gods towered thousands of feet high. Every street corner had an altar. Marble busts depicting every fictitious deity imaginable were almost innumerable. And, at the sight of this, Paul was “provoked” within his spirit.

His heart simultaneously erupted in righteous indignation and fractured into a thousand pieces. He was enraged that wood and stone idols were given glory that belongs to God (cf. Deut. 9:7), and he was saddened because he knew that all sinners are hopelessly enslaved to such idolatry. And a burning and broken heart drove him to proclaim the gospel—the only remedy for sinners steeped in perverted idolatry. 

Thus, Luke says: “So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him” (vv. 17-18a).

Paul did not raid temples or topple idols. He didn’t grab robes or protest in the streets. And most importantly, he didn’t stand idly by while people sailed merrily to eternal torment. Instead, he patiently and boldly preached the gospel to anyone who would listen.

He “reasoned” with the Jews, proving to them that Jesus was the Christ, just as he had done in many other cities. He conversed with people in the public marketplace, engaging in street evangelism with pedestrians. And he debated the philosophers of the day, arguing that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life (cf. John 14:6).

Here’s the bottom line: Paul saw sinners the way they truly were, and it compelled him to impact the world for Christ and proclaim the gospel to every listening ear. And thus, we have the missing ingredient in our evangelism. If we want to transform the world the way Paul did, we must speak the way Paul spoke. If we desire to speak the way Paul did, we must feel the way he felt about the world. And, if we want to feel the way Paul felt, we must see the way Paul saw the world: steeped in idolatry and in need of redemption from the Lord.

Seeing the world’s pitiful idolatry through biblical eyes is what fuels our zeal to point lost sinners to the only God who is worthy of worship.

How do you see your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors? Do you see them the same way Paul saw the world? Do you see them as helplessly and hopelessly enslaved to idolatry? That’s the conviction that will compel you to proclaim the gospel to a place as sinful and unreachable as Athens.

Front Page News | Bible Gleanings – April 30-May 1, 2022

The chilling news froze me in my tracks. The blackness of gloom enveloped my heart when I read the big black headline on the front page of The New York Times: “The Toll: America Approaches Half a Million COVID Deaths.” The death toll has soared to nearly a million since then, but I remember burning with zeal to do everything I could to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. I am not sure whether mask-wearing and social distancing made a difference—only the Lord knows. But I wanted to do everything in my power to slow the death count when the reality of death was in my face. 

The last time a gust of grief struck me like that was when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, where He warned, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). According to Jesus, hordes and heaps of lost souls are driving down the wide open highway to hell, while only a fragment of humanity trudges on the hard road to heaven. Millions are afflicted by the crippling disease of sin, and they will discover too late that they were sick (Matt. 7:21-23). The “second death” toll is infinitely high, and it rises every day (Rev. 21:8). And the sharp twinge of heartbreak ought to pierce the heart of every believer when confronted with this sobering reality (cf. Romans 9:1-3).

Only 31% of the world’s population profess to be Christian, which means that the remaining 69% are hellbound (and that is if all 31% are true believers). According to the World Population Review, 166,279 people die daily. That means that at least 144,733 souls enter the gates of hell every day, and one million do every week. Jesus was right when He said that “many” would hear these terrifying words: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

The good news is that there is plenty of room in heaven, and its door is open to all who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2a). Therefore, those heavenbound ought to take the life-saving gospel with unquenchable zeal to those who have never heard. The miserable reality of hell for the lost and the marvelous reassurance of heaven for the saved ought to be on the front page of every Christian’s mind. As John Wesley stated, “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Review: Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash

Burnout is a serious problem in Christian ministry. It occurs when you are at the end of your rope—when all of your emotional, physical, and spiritual resources have been used up and you are exhausted. It is a cunning problem too, both because we are often unaware of it until it is too late, and because we usually think we aren’t suspect to it at all. But anyone can experience burnout, especially those serving in ministry. Pastors like myself are keenly aware of this epidemic. We have experienced it in our own lives, and we have painfully witnessed it in the lives of others. Scores of pastors leave their places of ministry every year because of ministry burnout. On the other hand, some pastors get so close to the cliff that they nearly fall, but by God’s grace have been awakened and renewed.

Is there a way to maintain our ministry passion and work fervently without burning out? Or is there a way to recover from a serious burnout? Thankfully, Christopher Ash answers those questions in his book, Zeal Without Burnout. Christopher is himself a pastor who knows exactly the kind of damage that burnout can bring. Through solid theology, raw testimonies, wise counsel, and practical suggestions, Christopher tackles the problem of burnout. He makes us aware of the seriousness of burnout, equips us with tools to prevent it, and may even take some on a drive down the road of recovery.


The book’s main premise is simple: God is God and we are not. We are merely creatures of the dust and therefore we are fragile, very susceptible to the problem of burnout. And there are certain things that we need, which God does not. Chris says, “We need sleep, but God does not. We need Sabbaths, but God does not. We need friends, but God does not. We need food, but God does not” (p. 41). Preventing burnout starts with a recognition of these things that we need for day-to-day sustenance. Things such as sleep, Sabbaths, friends, and inward renewal are all things which God has given us to serve Him sustainably without fizzing out.

Chris introduces the book by describing his own experiences with burnout, then he makes a distinction between sacrifice and burnout—noting that they are different in nature. In other words, one can make a sustainable sacrifice for the Lord without burning out—burning out is not a sacrifice. Then Chris expounds on the truth of our human nature, that we are made from the dust of the earth, and the next four chapters are implications of that truth. First, Chris talks about how we need sleep and how lack of sleep can contribute to burnout. Second, Chris explains the need for us to take regular days off, or Sabbaths. If we work on Sundays (like pastors do), we need to intentionally plan whole days off for worship, rest, and refreshment. Third, he expounds on the need for us to have friends—friends that will help us share the load and recognize potential burnout in our lives. And finally, he speaks of the need for inward renewal, that we need both time with the Lord and time for leisure activity to refresh ourselves. He is worth quoting at length on this point when he says,

“It is good to develop a healthy self-knowledge about what energizes us—what the Holy Spirit uses to bring us that inward renewal. But these activities will never be enough on their own to bring us true spiritual renewal. Each of us needs our personal devotional times with God: times of Bible reading and prayer, times to be glad to be in Christ, times of thoughtful reflection before the Lord: times to be refreshed. It is not selfish to guard those times, any more than it is selfish for a firefighter to take a break before heading back into the fire. Indeed, if we do not give space for renewal, there will soon be nothing left of us to give” (p. 77).

The final portion of the book concerns a warning to stay away from self-centered motivation, an encouraging note to depend on the Lord for our labors, and an exhortation to delight in God’s grace and not in our performance. The conclusion of the book is perhaps the most practical part of the work—there, Chris suggests four simple and wise practices for preventing or overcoming burnout. There is one more chapter at the end of the book, which serves as sort of a footnote to the book—it’s a concise psycho-spiritual analysis of burnout. It helps with defining exactly what it is and it lists some of the warning signs that burnout may be approaching.


I give the book five stars because it is a biblical, concise, and real treatment of the issue of burnout. Also, you can’t go wrong with the length of this book. You could easily read through the entire book in less than a week – the book is mercifully short. That’s a good thing because the principles in this book need to be learned and implemented immediately. Finally, the book is very relevant. The book is filled with testimonies and real-life experiences. Testimonies impact you in a very unique way, and this book is replete with testimonies of individuals who have experienced and recovered from burnout.

It was like sitting down with a doctor—a doctor who’s had the disease before and is most qualified to treat it in others. I have begun to implement the principles of this book into my personal life and ministry so that I can remain zealous in my service without burning out. And I would highly recommend that all Christians read the book so that they can have a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice without burnout.

You can purchase Zeal Without Burnout on Amazon in these formats: Kindle, hardcover, and audio CD.